Since the debut of Casino Royale in 1953, James Bond’s habits, views, love life, equipment, and adventures have all been celebrated, debated and dissected by critics and Bond fans all over the globe. 52 years later, one wonders, what can Henry Chancellor’s James Bond The Man and His World bring to the table?
The answer is, it brings plenty. At 256 pages, with 188 illustrations, there is a lot here to please even the most seasoned Bond enthusiast. Chancellor is a noted World War II historian and documentary producer, but the big story is that for the first time, Ian Fleming Publications has opened it’s complete archive to an author, and allowed him to quote from notebooks, correspondence, and manuscripts.
For further insight into the process that brought us Bond’s adventures, souvenirs from Fleming’s research trips to casinos, restaurants, and exotic locations are pictured throughout the work.
Structurally, the book shares some similarities with Raymond Benson’s James Bond Bedside Companion. There are chapters on Ian Fleming’s life, the genesis of James Bond, his tastes in food, his equipment, etc., along with individual sections for each novel. Chancellor has turned up all kinds of new information about character and plot origins (Miss Moneypenny was originally Miss Pettavel?), as well as possible influences.
Although John Pearson and Andrew Lycett covered Fleming’s life in great detail, Chancellor does an excellent job of examining the formative years of 007’s creator, and has uncovered a number of interesting Fleming family photos that have not been previously published.
While the information on Fleming and the literary Bond is extremely strong, the television and film portion of Bond’s world is given a scant 6 pages, and sadly has some factual errors regarding production dates and casting.
The book is very well designed, but there are two caveats. Advertisements for products that Bond uses are shown throughout the book, and while the ads are interesting and provide a 50s & 60s visual flair, they aren’t from Fleming’s archive. So the reader has to flip to the back in the photo credits to see if certain things were put in there by the designer, or if they were part of Fleming’s original research.
The second caveat is that the reader is teased by a number of interesting items from the archives that are only shown in the briefest of glimpses. A partial memo here, a snippet of a letter there, they only serve as an exercise in frustration, as the reader can see what the item looks like but can’t read the contents.
Those issues aside, James Bond The Man and His World is an absolute must for all fans of Ian Fleming and James Bond. Excellent research and fascinating images combine to form a totally unique look at 007 and his creator.
James Bond: The Man and His World is now available for purchase at Amazon.co.uk.
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